Row covers are placed over row crops to prevent insect problems, sun scald, or frost damage on vegetables. Row covers are made with a lightweight synthetic material that allows sun and water to penetrate while keeping out insects and warming the soil. A floating row cover is made by loosely laying the row cover material over the bed and securing it on the sides with metal pins, boards or rocks so it cannot blow away. A row cover for taller plants must be supported over the planting bed with hoops made of heavy gauge wire and is more of a challenge to build.
How to Build a Row Cover for Vegetable Gardens
Choose a day with calm winds to build the row cover over your vegetable bed. A windy day will make handling the lightweight row cover fabric very difficult.
Cut hoops from heavy gauge wire. Lay wire over row cover and cut the wire lengths for the hoops 2 feet shorter than the row cover is wide. This will allow you to push the ends of the hoops into the ground 6 inches on each end and give you 6 inches of row cover on each side, after placing row cover over hoops, to use for anchoring the row cover to the ground.
Push the ends of each hoop into the ground 6 inches deep to stabilize the hoop over the vegetable bed. For added stability, you can drive a wooden or metal stake into the ground at the bottom of each hoop and wire the hoop to the stake. Space hoops no more than 36 inches apart. Continue working down the row until the row is completed. Be sure there is a hoop placed on each end of the planting bed so row cover can be placed all the way to each end. It is okay if the hoops are not spaced exactly.
Place row cover over the ends of the row tunnel you have created and secure to end hoops with clothespins. This is so insects cannot enter the tunnel once it is finished.
Lay row cover over hoops parallel to the planting bed. Secure to end and middle hoops with clothespins so the row cover will stay in place while you work to secure it. Secure bottom of row cover with metal pins cut from light gauge wire and formed into a "U" shape. Push the metal pins through the extra row cover located near the bottom of the hoops and into the ground to hold row cover in place.